Tag Archives: Cooking

Paddock to Plate!

Part of what I am about is using local and home grown produce as much as I can, so recently I purchased another side of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb, and while you can select the cuts that you would like, I prefer to dress the lamb myself. You see I was raised on a sheep and grain farm about 500 km from where we now live, so am quite familiar with the various cuts of lamb, having observed and helped my mother and father dress many during my childhood and teenage years. One thing that I learnt was that there was very little waste. My mother was meticulous ensuring that all the meat was saved and frozen, even the tiniest of skerricks! Fat was rendered down and the fresh dripping was used to fry the BEST fish and chips – usually redfin fish that dad had caught, the bones were used to make stock for soups, the little bits were used to make pies, and so on.   So with that memory, I set to work.

Firstly I set up my kitchen – bowls each for meat to mince, casserole meat and sausage meat set up close to where I would be dressing the meat; a baking dish for the bones; a bag for the fat (I think we’re probably a little more wary of animal fat nowadays, so mainly use olive oil and peanut oil for frying) were close by; my stand mixer was set up and the mincing attachment placed in the fridge; knives steel, hacksaw and chopping boards were layed out; an area with my vacuum seal machine was set up with various sized bags at the ready; and, finally a pile of tea towels were stacked up. Then I set to work….

So this is what happened

  • The loin was boned out and tied at one inch intervals, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then popped in the fridge for a while, before being cut into little noisettes.
  • Little cutlets were cut, their long rib bones were boned from the flap before being trimmed, and all of the excess fat was removed.

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  • The flap takes time as there is quite a bit of fat to be removed, and invariably you will end up with the odd hole here and there, but they are easily filled with some offcuts. When it was done, it was laid out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap and then rolled up ready for packaging and freezing. The flap is delicious filled with lamb sausage mince, rolled and wrapped in prosciutto and then cooked at low temperature for a while . It makes for a delicious hot meal with veg, but alternatively makes an amazing sliced cold meat for sandwiches or salad.
  • The shank was removed from the shoulder and Frenched.
  • The shoulder was partially boned out.
  • The neck takes quite a bit of work, removing the ribs and cutting the meat away from the vertebrae. But it is well worth the effort with the finished product rolled and slow cooked for a delicious warming meal.
  • The hind shank was removed from the leg and Frenched.
  • The hind leg was totally boned out and butterflied in readiness for summer family gatherings. It will be cooked on the BBQ.

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  • The chump was boned out.
  • Larger off-cuts were set aside for casserole and stir-fry
  • Smaller off-cuts were minced
  • Fattier off-cuts were minced together with seasonings to become sausage mince.
  • Finally the bones were roasted and then placed into a large stock pot with water, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and peppercorns and left to simmer away for a few hours. After being strained and allowed to set in the fridge, the fat was removed and the stock was pressure canned in Mason jars for use at a later date.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I can’t lie, it is! But I have a beautiful product to work with and the most amazing childhood memories to guide me along the way. I hope that my efforts have ensured that the lamb I cook has been treated with the utmost respect – from paddock to plate!

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Now with all this beautiful Forge Creek Lamb in the freezer, I have the delightful task of coming up with the best way to prepare and serve it. The first meal that I prepared with it used the little lamb noisettes. I simply pan fried them to pink and placed them on a small disk of fried potato.

To accompany these little noisettes we had steamed peas, baby broad beans and asparagus topped with roasted baby rainbow carrots. On the side I put a little roasted beetroot and goats cheese, and to finish it off, I prepared and a delicious sauce with the lamb stock, white wine and aromats. I was so happy with this plate of food, inspired by the lamb and a trip to the local farmer’s market where I purchased all the vegetables to accompany it.

Of course we had to have dessert – Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – a berry and cream pie with the first strawberries from our garden.

The work still continues on the corner patch, it is now fenced and has a gate. We’re still waiting for the timber to box the beds, but hopefully it will be ready next week! I have managed to get a few things planted though, including a Boysenberry.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – Berry & Cream Pie

Slow Cooked Lamb Chump

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Glossary

Corner Patch

Forge Creek Lamb

 

Bacon & Eggs

I know, it’s just bacon and eggs. But last night, it wasn’t just any bacon with eggs, it was my, SBA’s, bacon with eggs and tomato – now do you understand…

While I’ve always wanted to try to make my own bacon, I was a little wary and thought it would be terribly difficult! That was until I come across the post of fellow blogger “The Old Fat Guy” from the Canadian Rockies… He showed the way to curing and smoking your own bacon, and I couldn’t wait. While I was unable to procure a piece of pork loin from my favourite supplier, Coltish Pork, I managed to get a nice piece from a butcher that I know provides good quality meat.

The first thing was to trim up the meat, weigh it, calculate the brining period, then weigh out the cure ingredients, massage them in, then pop it all into a snap-lock bag in the fridge for (in this case) 10 days. Each day I turned it and gave it a little massage, just to make sure the cure was getting to each and every little bit of it. Then the big day come, it was removed from the fridge, taken from the bag, washed, given a little soak and then set un-covered in the fridge until the next day. The cold smoker was lit and the meat was set in place to cold smoke for 6 hours before being put back in the fridge. The following day, the hot smoker was set and in went the pork, along with a few other bits and pieces, and all were smoked accordingly.

The, what was now, bacon was covered and placed back in the fridge for another two days, and yesterday was the big day…

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The bacon was sliced and several pieces set aside for our dinner last night – yes, that’s right, dinner, not brekky, dinner, and oh my gosh, it was amazing, delicious, what can I say. The rest of the bacon was vac sealed into small serving sizes and then frozen for another day.

While I have posted the recipe here on my blog, I urge you to go and see The Old Fat Guys’ blog where he provides a lot of insight into the making of bacon with this dry cure and has some fantastic pics of the various stages along the way. He has some amazing posts and recipes too, so you may find me referring you there again in the future. I do find it a little amusing that a Slightly Bent Aunt from Australia is referring you to The Old Fat Guy in Canada, don’t you?

So what else was in the smoker, you ask…

I wanted to make sure I put the space to good use, so had brined three large pork hocks, three potatoes and two sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes will be used later this week for a smokey sweet potato smash, and the ordinary potatoes were turned into a delicious creamy smoked potato soup topped with a little truffle oil, fine shavings of parmesan and just to gild the lily, a few shavings of black truffle – we had that for our “Soup and Sweets” night the sweets (dessert) was my Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta topped with vanilla poached peaches and toasted coconut flakes.

Here ends another frantic but fun few days in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 

The Old Fat Guy

Coltish Pork

Home Cured Bacon

Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta

A Parting Gift

A Parting Gift

Earlier this year, when I finished up my last job, my colleagues showered me with well wishes for our future and some amazing gifts, one of which was a voucher for a cooking class at Culinaire Cooking School in Swan Reach, which is a lovely little town down near Lakes Entrance. Well, what an amazing weekend!

I booked in for the Herbs and Spices class which was to be run over two days. Given that we live just on an hour away, I chose to drive back and forth each day. The first day, on my arrival I was met by a very energetic Christine, and was told that I was to be the only student, how luck was I! Given that we were concentrating on herbs, we headed into her herb garden to gather the majority of the ingredients for the class –

she has so many herbs growing, including lemon verbena, horseradish, tarragon, parsley, sorrel, thyme, marjoram, oregano just to name a few. After a nice cuppa, we got to work, making all manner of goodies including an Asian dressing to be used for our lunch, herb mayonnaises, flavoured oils and vinegars and pestos. I had such an amazing day and went home with a lovely basket of goodies and great enthusiasm about what the next day may bring.

Day two and it was spice day. The morning started with a cup of tea and a chat with Christine and John. Then we started, first up was to identify and group a plethora of spices from all around the world and then we got to use them. Coconut chicken and lemon rice was prepared for our lunch.

We also made a fresh laksa curry paste – so simple, so fresh – nothing like that that comes in jars on the supermarket shelf… Oh and Satay chicken, that you just wouldn’t believe the flavour – again, so simple and fresh. Then there was a mustard, in fact a horseradish mustard. The making of which, was rather funny, given that the day before, when we added horseradish to the mayonnaise, we just couldn’t get the kick that we wanted from it – today it was the opposite. We were using an older piece of horseradish and the more I grated it the more the tears streamed down my face – I said I had horseradish eyes! But boy-oh-boy, the mustard, it is sensational and I think we have used it almost every day since. To finish the day, we prepared a gorgeous sweet spicey wine syrup for fruits.

To my past work colleagues a huge thank you – this was the most amazing gift, I not only gained new knowledge about the use of herbs and spices in cooking, but I feel as if I have a new friend too. Thank you so much Christine, I will be sure to encourage anyone I know, to come and take a course at your cooking school. Oh and I didn’t mention the location, sitting up on a hill overlooking the Tambo river, it is so easy to get distracted by the view from the kitchen through the beautiful garden down to the river.

Feeling inspired, I spent yesterday pickling Asparagus, it is in season and who can resist it at this time of year. The off-cuts have been pressure canned to be used in soups, canapés etc.

And today, a lovely fresh herb sauce (with a little of the special horseradish mustard added) to go with our salmon for dinner.dsc06064-r

While I’ve been having such a wonderful time cooking, Gary has ordered the posts and digging holes for the espaliering of our fruit trees.

Here ends another week in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 Culinaire Cooking School

Pickled Asparagus

Crispy Skinned Salmon with a Creamy Herb Sauce.

Magnolia Bed

Side Rose Garden

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A visit to the farmgate

Last Saturday night I noticed an email which had just arrived from Wuk Wuk Beef – the market they were to attend had been cancelled! The good news was that they were going to sell from the farmgate the next day.   We quickly decided that we just had to go and see where our beautiful beef come from, so the next morning we hopped into the car and headed off. I also wanted to stop off at the little farmer’s market in Stratford, but with the weather the way it was, we didn’t know if they would be there. But alas they were – some people are so stoic! So loaded my basket with lots of fresh veg before we continued on to Wuk Wuk.

When we arrived we were greeted by Peter and we had discussions about the different cuts he had available, smoking beef, how beautiful and peaceful the area was – no wonder the beef tastes so good, the cattle are raised in idyllic surrounds. I asked Peter for a challenge! My challenge is to prepare a 2.7 brisket in my smoker, but that will be a later post. When we left we had the brisket, a girello and some beautiful scotch fillet.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the girello, but it came to me early on Monday morning, bresaola! Bresaola is cured and air dried beef, typically using girello, so I hit the net and found a few methods, recipes etc. Eventually deciding on that of a fellow blogger and got to work. I’ll let you know if it works, it should be ready by Christmas!

Sunday night I noticed a post on Facebook from Healthy Fermenting, advising that unless more people started to buy the Gippsland Jersey milk, they wouldn’t be able to continue supplying it. While I still had some in the fridge, I popped in on Tuesday to pick up some more, there was only one left, hopefully sales are improving and the new supply was due to arrive the following day. I decided it was time to make some cheese.

Gordon kindly provided me with a new recipe for Fromage Blanc, and I also made some Lemon Cheese, which is really only cheese made with the aide of lemon juice and is very much like ricotta, and it’s delicious.The Lemon Cheese was used in the Frittata we had for dinner last night.

Now back to the basket of goodies I picked up at the Stratford Farmer’s Market. At the far end of the table bunches of beetroot caught my eye, and even though I still had some in the fridge at home, I just couldn’t resist bringing some more home with me. I think the thing that attracted me most here, was the freshness, and the leaves, they just needed to be used to. So this week most of our meals have starred beetroot. We had beetroot carpaccio with goats cheese, then Braised Beetroot Leaves which paired beautifully with barbequed Pork, Onion and Sage Sausages (from Coltish Pork of course) and mash, then last night we had Beetroot Top, Leek and Fresh Cheese Frittata, oh and I also pickled and preserved a few bottles of beetroot for the store.

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We continue our work in the garden, and the roses at the front entrance are stunning.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

 

Wuk Wuk Beef

Cotlish Pork

Healthy Fermenting

Braised Beetroot Leaves

Beetroot Top Leek and Fresh Cheese Frittata

Lemon Cheese

The Entrance

Welcome visitors in the garden

Again, we have been busy in the garden…

The pool garden renovation is now complete and it looks wonderful, thanks to a lot of hard work put in by Gary, and the help of local tradies Johnno and Nic.

Finished!

I just helped by making lunches.

Lunches for the workers

All bar the fencing had been completed when some more wonderful friends arrived from Melbourne for a weekend break. It was so good to see my dear friend Beth again – it had been about seven months since we had seen each other. She and her husband, Steve, arrived late Friday afternoon, after battling the traffic to get out of town and we soon settled in for a lot of talking and a bit of eating. I had our dinner all but prepared when they arrived. A shoulder of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb was slowly cooking on the stove top with the veg prepared as well, including a favourite of Cauliflower Cheese, this time done with goat’s milk, and goat’s cheese, as well as a little parmesan. Dessert was a favourite, crème brulee.

Saturday morning after a lesson of poaching eggs in water, we all went to a farmer’s market in nearby Sale, stopping off on the way to buy some more beautiful fresh eggs for Beth to take home. The wind was quite strong and some of the stallholders weren’t prepared – we all hopped in and helped one dismantle her gazebo before it ended up the other side of town! But from then it was a nice, but blustery, stroll along, checking out what was on offer and for me, to collect my orders from Coltish Pork and Wuk Wuk Beef. Don’t you just love buying from the local farmers. Poor Gary was seen doing a few trips back and forth to the car with our meat and some lovely fresh vegetables!

Using some of the market purchases during the week

Back home we decide to have a BBQ lunch – albeit quite late. Which meant that a variety of sausages picked up at the market were now bound for the hotplate. Fortunately with the Natural Pork sausages being onion and garlic free, everyone could enjoy a sausage. We did, however, also add some of our home smoked hot and cold salmon to the table, along with a nice fresh citrusy salad and a gluten free pull-apart that I made up quickly.

We all enjoyed sitting out on the terrace, chatting, and after a lovely relaxing afternoon and weren’t sure that we’d be able to manage dinner! We did… So just a simple meal of Scotch Fillet (from the farmer’s market) with some mash and green beans, and for dessert… Chocolate Fondant with homemade Raspberry Sorbet!

Chcolate Fondant - Recipe Feature Image

Now whoever tells you that Chocolate Fondant is difficult to make is wrong!!! I have a book that I absolutely love,dsc05899-r “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Band. Elizabeth is an American Journalist based in France and she writes the story of how she went out to lunch with a Frenchman, fell in love and ended up living in Paris. I love this book so much, that I have two copies! Earlier this year when my mother was visiting I wanted to make Chocolate Fondant for her birthday dinner, but horror, we could not find either copy of the book anywhere! Both my husband and I scoured the piles of books (at that stage we didn’t have our bookcases) but to no avail. So there was no Chocolate Fondant, just Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake for the occasion. Not long after both copies came home – I had leant one copy to each of my sisters!

Anyway I digress!

During one of our wanders around the garden, Beth commented on the wasp/bee like insects that were thick and very active around the roses and the Kaffir Lime, I made the comment that maybe they liked aphids, as there were very few to be seen, which is unusual. So after they left I did a little research and discovered that they were Hover Flies, and guess what, they love aphids – I quickly declared these little insects to be welcome guests in our garden.

Moving on, this week Gary and I have erected our garden shed, mainly Gary, I should say. Although I was seen up a ladder on more than one occasion! I love our little shed, it fits perfectly with our house and garden, and it will be right down in the corner patch for quick and easy access.

As we were carrying the shed panels down to the Corner Patch, I was pointing out new flowers in the garden and Gary commented that he loved that even though we were in the middle of doing something, I could still take the time to look around and find things! I must say I am easily distracted in the garden, which is what happened as I was heading back to the house for something and noticed a large number of orange butterflies on the white hebes (a little research and I discovered these to be “Wanderer” Butterflies and apparently they are not so common in this area) – more welcome visitors in the garden. I just had to sit on the lawn and try to get a photograph – I failed as you can see.

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When I was not needed I worked at moving more dirt and setting out two more little beds, which will soon be home to rhubarb and asparagus, as well as being home to my treasured strawberry pots.

Finally, as a treat one night this week I made a delicious meal using another cut of Forge Creek Lamb Sumac and Garlic Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes and Yoghurt Sauce. I so love it when a recipe idea comes together so nicely.

Sumac and Garlic Lamb - Recipe Feature Image

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

Pool Garden

Chocolate Fondant

Sorbet

Sumac and Garlic Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes and Yoghurt Sauce

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